Centre County lost one of its five local high school football teams this week when Philipsburg-Osceola decided to forfeit its final two games of the season because of player safety concerns. The Mounties were down to just 21 players because of injuries and only eight of the remaining players had varsity experience.
The four remaining squads are all in contention for the top seeds in their respective district classifications with two weeks to go before the second season starts. One local team, Bellefonte, has already moved closer to the No. 1 seed in Class 4A.
Bellefonte’s Senior Night contest against Bishop Carroll has been forfeited by the Huskies because of similar concerns to the Mounties. The Huskies were running low on healthy players and didn’t want to endanger the safety of their remaining players.
The Red Raiders are still holding a free event at Rogers Stadium Friday at 6:30 p.m. to honor senior members of the football team, the cheerleading squad and the band. Concessions will be sold at the event and the school will still be doing a canned food drive to benefit the Bellefonte Food Bank.
State College has already wrapped up the top seed in Class 6A and Bellefonte owns a slim, 10-point lead over Clearfield in Class 4A — before Friday’s forfeit result becomes official.
Bald Eagle Area can wrap up the top seed in Class 3A with a win over Jersey Shore on Friday, but it won’t be easy. The Tom Gravish-led Bulldogs handed Bellefonte one of its two losses this season.
Penns Valley is within striking distance of the top seed in Class 2A. The Rams can wrap up a home game in the opening round of the playoffs with a victory on Friday.
Penns Valley, Bald Eagle Area, and Bellefonte each have just one Mountain League loss through eight games. With Friday’s forfeit win, the Red Raiders will tie the Eagles at the top of the standings with their sixth conference victory before the final week of the regular season.
The Rams will look to join those local squads at the top with a victory over Tyrone on Friday, and Penns Valley owns a potential tiebreaker with victories over both Bellefonte and Bald Eagle Area this season.
State College is looking to rebound off its first loss of the season to Central Dauphin last week and they’re looking to close the regular season with a new winning streak before the postseason starts.
Jersey Shore (5-3) at Bald Eagle Area (7-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: Tom Gravish (JS), Jesse Nagle (BEA)
Last Meeting: Bald Eagle Area 24-23 in 2018
Players to watch: QB Tanner Lorson (JS), Jaden Jones (BEA)
The Skinny: Bald Eagle Area and Jersey Shore will have a tough time matching the excitement of last year’s contest at Jersey Shore High School. The Eagles scored two touchdowns in the final 1:42 of the game, including Kael Gardner’s 19-yard TD pass from Jaden Jones with four seconds left, to cap an improbable 24-23 comeback victory over the Bulldogs. Senior QB Jones threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns in that contest, and he also did it all last week for the Eagles in a critical 36-28 Mountain League victory over Clearfield. Jones ran for 70 yards and one TD against the Bison and he added 192 passing yards and three TDs. Senior Kaden Bittinger led the way with five catches for 89 yards and a touchdown and senior Matthew Reese caught the other two touchdown passes. The Eagles found themselves in a 28-14 hole in the second quarter last week after they allowed the Bison to score on their first four possession, but BEA scored 22 unanswered points and pitched a shutout the rest of the way to put themselves in position to win the Mountain League.
The No. 10 state-ranked Eagles in Class 3A will look to wrap up the top seed in the District 6 Class 3A playoffs with a victory as they hold a 350-point advantage over Westmont with two games to play. Non-conference foe Jersey Shore won’t make it easy on the Eagles this week, just ask fellow Centre County squad Bellefonte. The Bulldogs humbled Bellefonte in the season opener in a 55-35 victory in which senior QB Tanner Lorson accounted for eight touchdowns — four rushing and four passing. Bald Eagle Area will square off with their common opponent Bellefonte in the regular-season finale next Friday. Jersey Shore is in a battle with Selinsgrove for the top seed in the District 4 Class 4A playoffs. The Bulldogs have scored the most points (14) against No. 1 state-ranked Southern Columbia in Class 2A, who are led by five-star Ohio State WR recruit Julian Fleming.
Penns Valley (7-1) at Tyrone (2-6)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: Martin Tobias (PV), John Franco (T)
Last Meeting: Penns Valley 13-7 in 2018
Players to watch: Gage Ripka (PV), Bryce Martellacci (T)
The Skinny: Senior quarterback Aaron Tobias will look to continue his march toward the top of the PIAA passing record books this week. He threw for five touchdowns in last week’s 55-12 victory over Bishop Carroll, giving him a ridiculous 42 TD passes in eight games. Logan Snyder, Stephen Ripka, Gage Ripka, Zach Braucht and Brennan Hyde each caught touchdown passes against the Huskies. Tobias is now just 11 scores away from breaking the PIAA record for TD passes in a single season with 53 — South Fayette’s Christian Brumbaugh (2010) and Port Allegany’s Matt Bodamer (2012) share the record at 52. He’ll look to add to his total this week against a Tyrone squad that’s coming off a 41-13 loss to Hollidaysburg last week.
The only thing that can slow down Tobias and this aerial attack from breaking the state record right now is if they don’t play in the final week of the regular season. As of now, the Rams are scheduled to play Phillipsburg-Osceola next week, which has ceased their football operations for the rest of the season. Penns Valley could potentially look for another opponent next week or they could take the forfeit victory and use a glorified bye week heading into the District 6 Class 2A playoffs. As for the task at hand this week, a win over the Golden Eagles would look up a top-four seed in the 2A playoffs and a home playoff game with one week remaining in the regular season.
State College (7-1) at Altoona (1-7)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: Matt Lintal (SC), Vince Nedimyer (A)
Last Meeting: State College 49-14 in 2018
Players to watch: Dresyn Green (SC), Avery McCaulley (A)
The Skinny: The Little Lions are coming off an extremely deceptive 21-point loss — and an extremely disappointing loss at that — to Central Dauphin last week. The Little Lions outgained the Rams by 207 yards and they held a 13-6 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining before the wheels came completely off. The Rams reeled off 28 straight points to end the game because of some costly State College turnovers to turn a seven-point lead into a 21-point loss. Junior Dresyn Green led the way with 18 carries for 126 yards and one TD while senior QB Brady Dorner threw for 186 yards and had a rushing touchdown. What made the loss even worse for the Little Lions is that they no longer control their own fate in the battle for the Mid-Penn Commonwealth title. Central Dauphin is the lone remaining unbeaten team in the conference with matchups against Chambersburg and Central Dauphin East remaining.
The Little Lions will look to take out some of their frustration against a struggling Altoona program that’s lost five straight games since a victory over Taylor Allerdice on Sept. 6. State College will look to take care of business early against an Altoona team that’s been outscored 121-to-14 by Central Dauphin and Cumberland Valley over the last two weeks. Head coach Matt Lintal will want to see a focused effort before the Little Lions’ historic Senior Night game at Beaver Stadium at noon on Oct. 26 against Cumberland Valley.